Plutonic Expands into Ontario Market
Plutonic Power Corporation (TSX: PCC) and GE (NYSE: GE) unit GE Energy Financial Services have agreed to acquire a 50-megawatt (alternating current) portfolio of three photovoltaic solar facilities to be built in Ontario from First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR), marking Plutonic’s expansion into solar power and Ontario.
Plutonic Power is expected to make an equity contribution of approximately C$6 million and serve as the projects’ managing partner. Project debt will be arranged by First Solar on behalf of Plutonic and GE Energy Financial Services and is expected to be in place at financial close, which coincides with the start of commercial operation. Additional financial details were not disclosed.
"Expanding into both a new market and a new technology represents significant growth for Plutonic," said Donald McInnes, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Plutonic Power. "Our solid relationship with GE Energy Financial Services enabled this expansion into our third joint near-term operating asset."
"This transaction is GE Energy Financial Services’ first solar investment in Canada, broadening our US$6 billion renewable energy portfolio and supporting our strong partnership with Plutonic," said Mark Tonner, Managing Director and Canada business leader at GE Energy Financial Services. "We see significant growth potential for solar power worldwide, which continues to improve on technology costs and efficiencies, and helps balance wind-generated power, which peaks at different times."
First Solar will continue developing the facilities–Amherstburg (10 MW), Belmont (20 MW) and Walpole (20 MW)–and will provide engineering, procurement and construction services and operations and maintenance services under long-term contracts. Permitting the projects under the province’s Renewable Energy Approval process is expected in the spring of 2011. Construction is expected to begin by mid-2011.
"These projects will significantly expand Ontario’s supply of clean, affordable, sustainable solar energy," said Frank De Rosa, First Solar senior vice president of project development for North America. "First Solar is pleased to be working with Plutonic and GE Energy Financial Services to realize these development projects."
The projects will create more than 600 construction jobs, generate tax revenues for various levels of government and create economic benefits for local businesses. The projects will sell their power to the Ontario Power Authority under 20-year energy purchase agreements and will interconnect to the province’s distribution grid at five points. Combined, the facilities are expected to produce enough clean, sustainable electricity to power approximately 6,300 local homes and avoid 14,600 tons of carbon dioxide a year–the equivalent of taking 3,700 cars off the road.
In addition to this investment, Plutonic Power and GE Energy Financial Services also jointly own British Columbia’s largest wind farm, the Dokie Wind Project, and British Columbia’s largest independent run-of-river hydro project, the East Toba River and Montrose Creek hydroelectric project. The two projects have a combined capacity of 340 megawatts and have secured long-term Energy Purchase Agreements with BC Hydro.
Last month, GE Energy Financial Services announced it had reached its multi-year target of investing US$6 billion in renewable energy projects, which today span 14 countries and include investments in wind farms, solar installations, hydroelectric projects, landfill gas facilities and projects involving other technologies across a wide spectrum of capital–from project equity to debt and venture capital. GE Energy Financial Services’ renewable energy investments reinforce GE’s ecomagination initiative, a program to help its customers meet their environmental challenges while expanding its own portfolio of cleaner energy products.
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